Ep10-The Attributes of God Ch 5 - Models of Divine Knowledge (Part 2)

In this episode we go over the second part of Ch 5: Models of Divine Knowledge. We talk about Middle Knowledge and Joseph Smith's evolving view of God's knowledge. We discuss James E. Talmage's view of God knowing our character so well that he can know the future and problems with that.

Topics Discussed:
• Middle Knowledge
• Problems of Middle Knowledge
• No Grounds Objection
• Counterfactuals of Freedom Are Probable Only
• The "Agents Are Not Free" Objection
• Mormonism and Middle Knowledge

Show Notes:

Middle Knowledge-knowledge of how things would have been had they been different in some respects than they are.

proposed by Spanish Jesuit Luis de Molina

“Is the view of “It’s a Wonderful Life” correct, or is the future more like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?”

 A counterfactual is a statement of the form "if it were the case that P, it would be the case that Q". An example would be, "If Bob were in Tahiti he would freely choose to go swimming instead of sunbathing." The Molinist claims that even if Bob is never in Tahiti, God can still know whether Bob would go swimming or sunbathing. The Molinist believes that God, using his middle knowledge and foreknowledge, surveyed all possible worlds and then actualized a particular one. God's middle knowledge of counterfactuals would play an integral part in this "choosing" of a particular world.

Natural Knowledge – Middle Knowledge – Free Knowledge

Kid Rock Robbing a 7-11 Example

“The free will of beings other than God thus places restrictions on what is within God’s power but not what is within his knowledge according to Molinists.”

What about "Limited Free Will?" I can't just decide to fly so I am limited, but if God can control all the circumstances then perhaps he can predict ok 'know' what will happen. Or at least the probability of it happening.

Strengths: “The problems of evil and predestination are much easier to resolve if the doctrine of middle knowledge is accepted”

-How so?

Mormons have the story of JS Seeing his brother Alvin and God saying "If he had lived to see the restoration he would have embraced it"

“Problems of Middle Knowledge”

“how does God know which counterfactuals of freedom are true? God cannot know the truth of such propositions because he sees them as they actually are, for they actually are not—that is, such propositions correspond only to hypothetical circumstances. ”

“The No-Grounds Objection”

“One suggestion that has been widely accepted, and in fact is suggested by the Mormon scripture itself, is that God knows the intents of persons’ hearts or their character so thoroughly that he can know what they would do under any circumstances.56 This explanation has even more appeal in Mormon thought because creatures actually exist prior to God’s creation.”


“Even if God knows a person’s character, however, it seems doubtful that such knowledge is an adequate ground of infallible knowledge because, if persons are free in the sense that they can change their character based on free choices, then character is not a certain ground of knowledge. ”

Principle of Established Character (PEC)-
“(PEC) An agent A has forged a character by making free decisions in concrete situations and that character is such that (i) all future decisions will be consistent with that character and (ii) all decisions arise out of the character in such a way that if A were in circumstances C, then A would not choose otherwise than dictated by the character based on decisions made under similar circumstances.”

New situations and the Adam/apple conundrum

As Robert Adams has suggested: “A free agent may act out of character, or change intentions, or fail to act on them.”

On this view if we go back to our Alvin story then God only knows Alvin 'PROBABLY' would have accepted the 'restored' gospel.

William Hasker says: “If human character can be defined in such a way as to entail choices in conformance with character via psychological dispositions and laws, then free will in the libertarian sense is obliterated.”

“Counterfactuals of Freedom Are Probable Only”

(6) If Adam were in C, Adam might eat the apple;
(7) If Adam were in C, Adam might refrain from eating the apple.

But if (6) and (7) are true subjunctive conditionals, then there are no true counterfactuals of freedom with respect of Adam’s eating the apple in circumstances C. For both (6) and (7) are inconsistent with:
(8) If Adam were in C, then Adam definitely would refrain from eating the apple.

“The “Agents Are Not Free” Objection”

Krog problem.....he never existed

No freedom no molinism

“the supposition of nonexistent agents is impossible within the Mormon tradition. However, it follows that middle knowledge is also impossible given the Mormon doctrine of eternal intelligences.”...lemme 'splain...

“The actual world and all intelligence of all persons who can exist already existed prior to God’s choice to create. Thus, if anything can be clear in philosophy, it is clear that, given the Mormon rejection of creatio ex nihilo, God cannot know which counterfactuals of freedom are true based on his decision about which possible persons he chooses to create. It follows that God’s knowledge as to which personal intelligences are actual is dependent upon which of them already exists. God can know what it is possible for the actually existing intelligences to choose, but he cannot have middle knowledge as to which of these possibilities will be actualized based on his decision to create an intelligence. The Molinist description as to how God knows which of all possible worlds is the actual world is impossible given the Mormon view of creation.”

“Mormonism and Middle Knowledge”

Given the Alvin example it appears that God will judge people on what they would have done, but subsequent revelations on work for the dead remove this. Now God does not same them based on if they would have, but if they in fact do/did accept it when their 'work' was done.

“Thus, God did not look on Alvin Smith’s heart in some other possible world that could have existed where Alvin could have lived until after 1830. Rather, God knows Alvin’s heart as it actually is and knows that, given his present willingness to accept God and the steadfastness of his commitment, he in fact accepts the gospel and is simply waiting for the ordinances of salvation to be performed for him. That is, God’s knowledge is not a function of knowing what would happen had the world been different than it actually is but of entering into an I-Thou relationship with Alvin Smith in the present moment as he actually is in the spirit world.”


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